Singapore is playing an emerging “role as a magnet for Myanmar companies eager to grow as their country emerges from decades of isolation but frustrated by its crippled banking system and barely existing financial markets.  Lawyers and financial advisors who work closely with Myanmar firms say about six to 10 companies are considering a listing in Singapore over the next couple of years.” as the The Business Times reported last week.

But as Reuters reports, hurdles include regulatory restrictions including strict Singaporean corporate governance standards, restrictions on some in Myanmar who have done business with the government and are subject to US sanctions restricting access to international capital markets – and resistance by the Myanmar government which is seeking to establish it’s own exchange.

As Mathew Chacko, resident head of Kochhar & Company in Singapore told me:  “Singapore offers the easiest point of access to the capital markets for companies from Myanmar. Listing in Singapore could also contribute to a gradual process of bringing Myanmar’s standards of corporate governance to international standards.”

“To date, only one Myanmar firm has managed to list in Singapore – Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd (YOMA.SI), which listed in 2006 through a reverse takeover”, Reuters reports.  “Some of the first listings are likely to be Myanmar-focused firms that are part of an international group.

Mongolia-based Silk Road Finance is considering a Singapore listing within three years for Mandalay Capital, a unit that provides corporate and advisory services to Myanmar firms and international investors, its chairman Alisher Ali told Reuters.”

“Yoma Strategic blazed a trail in 2006, and it will be interesting to see who follows,”  Chacko told me.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal

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